I'll add to the tales of shoddy treatment and the ridiculous "jump through hoops" cancellation procedures:
I've had SiriusXM for my car for the past year. I called today to cancel, as I drive only a couple of thousand miles per year now, and wasn't getting to listen often. I knew my 1-year term was expiring soon, and I wanted to cancel before I was charged for another period. There's 1 week left on my subscription, and I was told that if I wanted to cancel today they would charge me $75 "cancellation fee." Or I could call again in 5 days, to cancel for free during the 3-day window leading up to my actual last day of service. Ridiculous.
My suggestion that they treat it as a non-renewal rather than a cancellation were met with the same "read the contract" responses as others have alluded to on this thread. When I asked why the cancellation was operated this way, I was told "lots of companies do this." In other words: "we can't think of a defensible explanation for abusing you this way, so instead we'll associate ourselves with other predatory companies who hope you can't hit the right window, and accidentally renew, and lack the tenacity to pursue a refund." Even my cable company treats me better than this.
There's no excuse in this computerized age for a company being unable to process a delayed cancellation, or refusing to change your account to a non-renewal status so that it will lapse automatically when your subscription is up. These guys have contempt for their customers, and hope to exploit the busy-ness of the average consumer to get unwanted renewals. Gangsters.
FYI, I persisted on the phone, escalated to the supervisor and got an instant cancellation with no fee. Whole process took almost 25 minutes. I'll never subscribe again.